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Challenge Yourself (And an Ode to a Falcon)

For me, the most challenging form of writing is absolutely poetry. Sure, I can find words that rhyme. But making a cohesive ‘story’ out of them? Then adding in all the meter and rhythm and such? That’s a bit out of my novel-loving wheelhouse. Make it a hiaku? Still too much syllable counting. And freeform is just…weird 😅

I attended The Writer’s Sanctuary’s Ren Faire Conference a couple weeks ago. (Which was a wonderful experience by the way! If you’re a writer looking for good community and solid teachings I highly recommend them) Anyway, when they asked us to write a poem in honor of our guilds, I could have said “Sorry, that’s not my thing,” and let another Falcon take up the torch. After all, this conference was about having fun! But I didn’t.

Why? Because this conference was also about learning and growing, stepping out of your comfort zone a bit. Honing skills you don’t ‘need’ isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I still have no intention to ever become a poet. But I may want to write a story with a prophesy. What if I have kids one day and Doctor Seuss has disappeared from the shelves? Or if magic suddenly breaks through the veil and it’s all music based? I’ll need the skills then!

So I wrote this little ditty. And you know what? I enjoyed it!

Bottom line? Push yourself to look for learning opportunities in areas you’re not comfortable with. You never know when you might need the skills, or what you might end up loving.

Tell me, what challenges you?

Blog Tour Kickoff

Welcome to the To Slay a Curse Blog Tour! We’ve got a lot planned for you this week, but before we get into that, I just want to say a great big THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me on this journey to publication. My first book baby has been officially out in the world only two days and I’ve already sold out of signed copies! Fear not, I have ordered more 😉

Ok, you ready to get this thing started? So am I! Kicking off with my signature tour post, a character interview 😊

Meet Giselle

Character art by Laura Hollingsworth. Rest from Pinterest.

Welcome, Giselle! Thank you so much for taking the time to meet with us today.

‘Tis so good of you to have me! I’m not sure why anyone should care to interview me. But I’ll do my best to satisfy.

Now don’t be like that! My readers have been dying to meet you. The girl who traveled her own mind! And while so young, too. Tell me, dear, how old are you?

I will reach my 19th autumn this year.

See? Your trip was quite the achievement.

*Blushes* I thank you. But, truly, credit must go to the others. I didn’t do all that much mysef.

If you say so. Now, down to business! What’s your favorite scent?

Roses to be sure. I always get this warm, cared for, feeling when I catch a whiff. As if wrapped in a mother’s arms. *smiles sadly.* I like to think my mother kept them about.

Roses are delightful! Even better when coming from a man, right? *sly wink*

*embarrassed laugh* I would not know. I have yet to receive any.

What a shame! And his own mother runs the florist shop. Don’t worry, love, I’ll see that he pulls his act together.

Ah, here’s another favorites question for you. If you had to choose one sweet to eat the rest of your life, what would it be?

Ami’s tarts. She is always so disappointed when they don’t come out just as her mother’s, yet I love them. I attempted baking some myself, once. It was quite the disaster!

Haha! I feel your pain. I enjoy baking, but am not much good.

Now, for one of my personal favorites. If you could go anywhere, where would you go and why?

I would give anything for a chance to see Ivlin. It’s Healer Aliza’s birthplace, you know. And Elden’s home. I want so badly to see their tales.

I don’t blame you. It sounds like a truly magical place. In the vein of tales from childhood, what’s your best childhood memory?

*Eyes gleam* The first time Ami came over! It was rather unexpected and I had just made a dreadful mess in the kitchen. *laughs* I’m sure I looked a fright, flour all over. I was mortified, yet she wasn’t put out. Not one bit. Just picked up a rag and started cleaning! She claimed me as a sister that day and we have been, ever since. I truly don’t know what I would do without her.

Sister friendships are priceless. And it sounds like you admire Ami a good deal. Who else would you say is a personal hero?

It’s no secret where Ami gets her courage. Healer Aliza gave up her home for love, came to a village on the edge of nowhere that feared her, and had kids of her own yet still found room for the lonely girl a cottage over. I aim to be her one day.

What a wonderful legacy to leave. Any other hopes for the future?

I do miss my friends in the mind world terribly. Especially Leal. That boy never failed to bring me a smile. I know there is no going back, so I’d like to find a way of honoring their memory here. Perhaps write their stories down. Tell the lives I know, imagine where they could be now. After all, I’ve got Stella to help.

I think that’s a lovely idea! Come to me if you need anything. I’m more than happy to help.

Many thanks, I certainly shall!

*Consults list* Looks like that’s a wrap! Thank you again for sharing so much with us. It’s been truly inspiring.

It was my pleasure entirely.

And thank you, dear readers, for joining us! I do hope you’ll return for our next stop on the tour!

*Exit together deep in writerly discussion.*

Lineup

Ready for more? You’ll have to wait till tomorrow I’m afraid 😉 Here’s what you’ve got to look forward to in the upcoming week:

January 19 Candice Yamnitz: Book Spotlight (https://candiceyamnitz.com/2021/01/19/book-spotlight-to-slay-a-curse/)

January 20 M.H. Elrich: Author Interview (https://mhelrich.com/author-interview-rae-graham/)

January 21 Cheyenne van Langevelde: Review & Author Interview (https://thedancingbardess.wordpress.com/2021/01/21/to-slay-a-curse-review-interview-with-author/)

January 22 Tamika Doyle: Book Spotlight (http://standingstronginthechristianwalk.blogspot.com/2021/01/book-spotlight-to-slay-curse-by-rae.html)

January 23 Emily Hayse: Review (https://emilyhayse.com/2021/01/23/to-slay-a-curse-tour-stop-review/)

Want to know more about To Slay a Curse? Check out my Books page!

Launch Festivities!

Happy New Year, everyone, and welcome to 2021! Rather than ending the year with a bang, I’m launching it with one 😉 Just two weeks till To Slay a Curse is out in the world! While I don’t have a full-blown party for you, I do have a couple fun activities coming up to celebrate.

Photo Challenge + Giveaway

For the week leading up to release, I’ll be hosting an Instagram photo challenge with a giveaway for both US and International participants! Just make a post following the day’s prompt with #ToSlayACurseChallenge and you’re entered to win. Pop over to Insta for all the rules!

Release Day Q&A

Mark your calendars for January 16 at 7! I will be going live on Facebook and Instagram to answer all your To Slay a Curse questions. Want to know my inspiration for the story? Have a question for one of my characters? Just curious about my writing process or publishing journey? Drop your queries in the comments and show up to find out!

Blog Tour

No graphic for this one as it’s not official yet😅 But, I’m planning a small blog tour for the week following release! It will include an array of posts featuring interviews, reader’s thoughts, and more. Check back here Jan 17 for all the info!

And, of course, my pre-order campaign is still running! If you want your swag, be sure to upload your receipt to the form on my Books page 😉

Phew! That’s quite enough to be getting on with, don’t you think? I’ll be busy as a bee in Jan, so perhaps I’ll get the luxury of being the lump on a log come Feb 😛 How are you kicking off the new year?

Meet the Cast: LOTR Edition

Just over a month till release! Which means it’s time for more consistent About The Book posts 😉 Starting with character intros, of course! Today features Lord of the Rings typecasting. Because seriously, what else do you expect of me? 😛

Main Characters

Giselle: The Unlikely Hero. She’s shy and in way over her head, but she’s not gonna quit!
Ami: The Bold Woman. She has opinions and is not afraid to share them, but she’s also got a pronounced soft side. Very much the mom of the group.
Eamon: The Loyal Friend & Protector. He’s always there, hovering in the background. Doesn’t say much, but when he does it means something.

The Villains

Devoron: Fearsome Monster. A parasitic horror created by arts of the Dark Power. Sadistic creature that will inflict pain for the slightest offense.
Ackley (Giselle’s Uncle): Bitter Old Man. A tragic past and painful infirmity have made him hard. Drowning in bitterness, he vents his rage on Giselle in any way he can, but most often with his fists.
Rajani: Evil Wizard. Creator of the curse and the Dark Power’s most prominent servant. Will do anything to maintain his status.

Side Characters

Lord Elden: Noble Leader. Champion of the downtrodden. Will drop a high-profile mission to escort a pair of peasant women through a deadly wood, just cause he was there. (And I guess you’ve now figured out my fave LOTR men 😉 Also Faramir, but unfortunately I didn’t write one of him 😦 )
Gil & Leal: Overeager sidekicks. Hyperactive cinnamon rolls who try so desperately to be helpful, but usually end up in trouble. Nothing much phases them, even when it should. (These two were seriously so much fun to write!)
Creative One: Christ Figure. I recon this one’s pretty obvious 😛 Mysterious character no one really knows or takes note of till they need him. Rae’s attempt at Aslan LOL (Again, what else do you expect of me 😛 )

And that’s a wrap! Who are you most looking forward to meeting? Also, who’s your fave LOTR dude? Oh, and don’t forget to preorder for swag! Character art of the MCs done by none other than Laura Hollingsworth! There’s a link to the swag form on my Books page.

To Slay a Curse Preorders

To Slay a Curse releases January 16! Preorders are now live and signed copies are available in my shiny new shop! (US ONLY) Check my Books page for buy links.

I also have my very own Laura Hollingsworth art, and so can you 😉 All preorders will receive a set of these gorgeous character cards. (ebooks: virtual set, paperback: 4×6 postcards) Just submit your receipt to this Form. Open through launch day!

Finding the Good in 2020

It’s Thanksgiving here in America and I recon we’re all needing it a bit more than usual this year. 2020 has been awful, and I don’t know anyone who’s come through completely unscathed, but if it’s taught me anything it’s not to take things for granted. It’s reminded me to find something every day to be grateful for, even if it’s just a cup of tea.

So, through all the chaos of a worldwide pandemic, tense election year, and personal catastrophe, here’s my short-list of thankfulness.

10 Things I’m Thankful For in 2020

In no particular order:

  1. The obvious one this year is health. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t always deal graciously with my health issues. I’m more likely to grumble about keeping track of medicine and refills than I am to stop and thank God for the very same medicine and doctors that make my daily life livable. But this year, I’m just a little more grateful.
  2. The ability to stay in touch with family and friends. Having friends spread out all over the world, this has always been something I’m thankful for. But through the isolation of COVID, I’ve reconnected with many of my closest friends online.
  3. The number of virtual conferences and gatherings that have popped up. While I’m sure this was a blow to those organizing, the virtual nature of 2020 has enabled me to attend a lot that I wouldn’t otherwise have been able to. Instead of missing out on some of my favorite things, I got to do extra!
  4. All the extra writing time. Without the work I got done during that initial shutdown, I likely wouldn’t be publishing now. Of course, launch means I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write anything new for quite a while, but I figure it’s worth it 😉
  5. My house and that I have a dad who can fix it. To be honest, buying a house was never on my bucket list. Definitely wasn’t something I planned on doing as a 20-something single girl. But my parents talked me into it when prices dropped so low. And while the process was extremely stressful for me, and repairs continue to be, I’ve been so glad I listened!
  6. That I’ve got a good job with great co-workers. Near the beginning of the year, I was informed that my position was being dissolved due to budget cuts. That was a massive blow! Not only was it my livelihood, it was my dream job. I had good friends there. And it was being taken away. Harder to swallow, it was being taken away through no fault of my own. If I had done something wrong, at least I would know that I deserved it. Then the pandemic came in full swing and I had the added stress of finding a job during work shortages. BUT GOD PROVIDES! Within a couple months, I found a great new job working alongside the wife of one of my former coworkers! It’s been a bumpy ride as COVID continues to restrict the work environment, but we’re coming through just fine.
  7. The Great British Baking Show! Yes, I realize it’s been around for ages. But I’ve just discovered this perfection and it’s become my go-to de-stressor. When I come home too exhausted and drained to get any of my own work done, I’ll curl up on the couch with an episode playing in one tab and Pinterest open in another as I search for corresponding recipes. And maybe one day, I’ll actually try them 😉
  8. Candles! I’m an avid collector of candles, but due to dorm life and other life circumstances, I haven’t been able to use them in nearly a decade. And now I can! They were one of the first things I unpacked after the necessities and I’ve had great fun arranging them in a display with my books. And, of course, burning them every chance I get.
  9. Chai and pretty bookish mugs. Y’all knew this was coming eventually! Honestly, what would life be without a good cup of Chai or Irish Breakfast in a geeky mug while you write on a rainy Saturday?
  10. My church. I don’t say it often enough, but I’m so thankful for my church body and great pastor. I’m proud of the ways we have adapted and the ingenuity put into new modes of outreach. One of my favorites is coloring missions! Since we can’t visit nursing homes like usual this holiday season, we’re sending cards with coloring pages and kind notes. Seriously, how brilliant is that?!

Ok, so that’s my thankfulness list. What are a few things on yours?

Guest Post: Emily Hayse and Willow Tam

Well, aren’t y’all just spoiled? Two posts in a row and another character interview with Emily! Don’t get used to it ;P

Seriously, though, I am so happy to welcome my good friend Emily Hayse back in honor of her most recent book release, The Rivers Lead Home, which is a collection of short stories for the award winning Seventh City. And today, she’s interviewing one of my favorite characters, Willow Tam! Any other Willow fans out there?

What is the strangest place that you have been?
On one campaign, our transport ships stopped in a strange port for supplies and to ship on fresh water. I was one of six footsoldiers allowed to go ashore, and we went to this ale-house to eat. The drinks were strange, the food tasted bitter and the people watched us closely. The proprietor had this two-headed rat and a bird that sang the strangest song in a woman’s voice. I didn’t finish my food. I got out of there.


What did you do before you joined the army?
I grew up in farm country, in one of those small shepherd’s cottages with my mother and younger brother. We didn’t own any land but what the cottage was situated on, but we worked for the farm nearest us as my father had while he lived.


What made you join the army?
I had lost both my father and my brother to farming accidents, and I needed to get away.


What was your fondest childhood memory?
I remember going out to the hayfield where my father was working to bring him ginger water. I was too young to work then, but he allowed me to follow behind him, and I remember watching him cut through the green hay with his scythe as if it were water. I treasure that memory, as he died just a couple years later.


What’s the greatest aspiration you’ve had in your life?
Well, I don’t think I have had many aspirations, really. Right before my father died, I wanted a dog. The farm had young pups, and I played with them often, but it wasn’t like having one yourself. But after he passed, I rather gave up on that. I was trying to make sure the rest of us had enough to eat, and a dog needs feeding. Maybe I’ll get one yet.


Proudest moment of your life?
I reckon it was when I overheard the farmer I worked for say I was the best hay cutter he’d seen in ten years. For me, that meant he’d let me go last of all the seasonal workers, and we needed that bad.


What do you think you are the most skilled at?
Most skilled, I do not know, but I can carve decently, I think. I work hard at it of nights, and I can do a fine recreation of a horse or a dog.


I think everyone wants to know what you intend to do in Uniap’nik. Can you share any of that?
I figure I’ll raise a house with my own hands and live where it’s quiet and wild. Maybe live close enough to hail some neighbors.


Any other plans?
None yet.

Want more Willow? Or Maki and Tsanu? Check out The Rivers Lead Home!

“You see, Maki, that’s the thing about the rivers. They’re like the blood-lines in your hands…. If you lose your way, follow the river downstream and you’ll always find your way back.”

In The Rivers Lead Home, Emily Hayse explores new frontiers, digging deeper into the land and the characters first introduced in her award-winning novel Seventh City. This collection of twelve short stories features beloved characters like Maki, Tsanu, Willow, Ransom, Laramie, Rutter, and Jeremiah, as well as introducing new characters like Spruce Norman, Mollie at Heart’s End, and the mysteriously lucky dog-driver Epirvikk Heft. From lazy nights at the Pick and Collarbone to dog races on the frozen tundra to the adventures of a young mapmaker in the jungles of Havast, these stories are full of laughter, surprises, brushes with glory, and heartwarmingly ordinary humanity.

Buy it on Amazon

To Slay a Curse Cover Reveal

At long last, today is Cover Reveal Day! It’s so surreal to be doing one of these for my own book baby, and I couldn’t have asked for a better cover to do it with 😊 A big thanks to Magpie Designs for the spectacular work 😍

Blurb:

A parasitic monster. A timid young woman. A deadly inner world.

Giselle is cursed. A monster lives within her, preying upon her mind. She sees no hope for her future when thoughts disappear as they form, and every small pleasure is met with a fit of pain. Then her closest friend offers her a single, harrowing chance at freedom. Terrified that failure is inevitable, but desperate for the life stolen from her, she sets out to slay her curse armed with a magical talisman. Now, the girl who can’t do anything right must defeat the beast within before her dreamsnare fills, or risk dying trapped in her own mind.

Releases January 2021!

Add it on Goodreads

To Slay a Curse

I’ve just realized that not only have I dropped the ball updating this page, but I’ve been quite remis in posting about my upcoming novel. So today, I’m going to introduce you to my first book baby!

To Slay a Curse is a YA Fantasy about a young woman cursed with a parasitic monster preying on her mind.

A parasitic monster. A timid young woman. A deadly inner world.

Giselle is cursed. A monster lives within her, preying upon her mind. She sees no hope for her future when thoughts disappear as they form, and every small pleasure is met with a fit of pain. Then her closest friend offers her a single, harrowing chance at freedom. Terrified that failure is inevitable, but desperate for the life stolen from her, she sets out to slay her curse armed with a magical talisman. Now, the girl who can’t do anything right must defeat the beast within before her dreamsnare fills, or risk dying trapped in her own mind.

It’s slated to release early January and is now up on Goodreads. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55513178-to-slay-a-curse

I’ve got a lot coming down the line for this and will do my best to update here. But if you don’t want to miss anything, please follow my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/writerraesbooknook/ or consider joining my street team Sisterhood https://www.facebook.com/groups/2528123980650089